Are Matt Patricia’s freezing practices a rookie mistake?

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions are once again practicing outside in freezing temperatures despite playing another indoor game this weekend. Does it make sense?

When the Detroit Lions hired former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as the newest head coach in Motown, it was to take an already winning team and make them a playoff contender. And the first-time head coach went about the business of trying to change the culture of a Lions team that had not won a playoff game since 1992.

Many questioned Patricia methods early on. Specifically his long, grinding practices that involved a controversial amount of running. And doing so as a punishment. It was either a call back to fundamentals for some or viewed as an inexperienced approach by a first-time head coach by others. Still, no one knew if it would result in wins at the time.

Through 12 weeks, we now know the answer. The Lions have a record of 4-7 and are practically out of all playoff discussion with more than a month of football yet to be played. Yet, Patricia continues to push his “back to basics” practice methods on this team.

Earlier this month, despite the fact the Lions next four games were being held indoors and they have an indoor practice facility, Patricia opted to start holding some practices outdoors in the snow and in freezing temperatures. That continued this week as the Lions prepare to take on the 10-1 Los Angeles Rams at Ford Field.

Patricia’s excuse? He believes there are benefits to the team practicing in the cold. For example, Patricia thinks players are forced to focus more when practicing in those kinds of conditions.

Undoubtedly Patricia is drawing from his experiences under uber-successful Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for some of these hardcore methods. But these outdoor practices also reek a bit amateurish considering their slate of indoor stadium appearances.

And combined with their lack of victories this season, there have to be questions as to whether Patricia actually knows what he’s doing or if he’s just a first-time head coach who is out of his depth.

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To Matt Patricia’s credit, there may be a method to his madness. Two of the Detroit Lions’ last three games of the season will take place in Buffalo and Green Bay. So instead of shocking the team into cold weather games, Patricia may have wanted to begin getting them acclimated early. Still his hard-nosed methods must start paying off in the win column or he could be in danger of losing this team treating modern day professionals like Bear Bryant and the Junction Boys.